No new faces arrived at Toronto FC over the weekend to help in their CONCACAF Champions League run and the all-important chase for a playoff spot.
Major League Soccer’s transfer window closed Saturday at midnight with TFC unable to bring in reinforcements for an injury depleted roster. Director of Soccer Mo Johnston worked diligently to add to his side, but salary cap limitations and external competition for players left TFC empty-handed at the deadline.
Johnston did add to his team earlier in the transfer window, bringing in forwards Maicon Santos and Mista.
MLS teams can still add players to their rosters. Players can be acquired through trade between MLS teams and unattached players are always available for teams to scoop up as they please.
Johnston’s challenge remains adding quality to his team while staying under the salary cap. TFC is right up against the cap and any addition will take a creative solution. .Johnston seems up to the challenge, telling QMI Agency he’s still very much in the market to bolster his roster with one or two more bodies.
“We are much deeper than last year but we’ve had a couple setbacks (injuries),” said Johnston. “With all the games coming up we may need to add to the squad.”
Go ahead and replace the word “may” with “must.” Injuries have made adding to the roster a virtual necessity. Among the injured are strikers Chad Barrett (hamstring) and Maicon Santos (knee), midfielder Amadou Sanyang (concussion), and the latest among the walking wounded, Nick Garcia (undisclosed).
All aforementioned players are not only important contributors for TFC, but seem set to miss Tuesday night’s CONCACAF Champions League game against Cruz Azul. And it’s predicted all four will remain out for the weekend return league match when the New York Red Bulls come to town.
Johnston confirmed he was hot in pursuit of Honduran left wing-back Emilio Izaguirre, who shined against TFC for Honduran side Motagua in CONCACAF Champions League qualifying. Izaguirre was particularly dangerous in the return leg, looking to have the pace and creativity to excel in MLS.
Johnston was so impressed with the Honduran he put in a discovery for the player right after the game against Motagua. The left-side has been a problem spot for TFC, so Izaguirre looked a logical fit. Not surprisingly, Johnston was gutted when TFC was “pipped at the post by Celtic” with Izaguirre set to sign with the Scottish club this week.
Sources say TFC was in for two other players before the transfer window closed, but may have been scuttled by other MLS teams having discovery rights. At least one of the desired players was believed to be Spanish.
Johnston remains hopefully he can still get something done to strengthen TFC, and is “50/50” on the chances of him making one specific move he says can help the team short term.
The addition of two new players would be ideal for Johnston, but realistically he’ll have to make do with just one. Johnston made one thing clear; players will not be brought in who’ll potentially disrupt the current team chemistry. TFC has gelled as a unit under Preki and camaraderie will not be sacrificed for band-aid solutions.
With no reinforcements for now, the spotlight turns to Mista to make an impact. The reviews haven’t been glowing for the Spaniard through a handful of appearances. And many soccer types I’ve talked to in Spain believe a series of injuries have left the once-lethal talisman with little left in the tank.
That kind of critique is rather premature, with Mista still regaining match-fitness. And the way TFC’s No. 10 collected the ball, created space for himself to set up O’Brian White in the 84th minute last week in New York was evidence Mista still has the quality and creativity to be effective.